The Apostolic Church Arising: God’s People Gathering and Contending for the Glory Today
Chuck Pierce and Robert Heidler (Part 2)
The Apostolic Church Arising is an insightful and powerful book that explains the history of the Church and the apostolic age that is arising. I recommend this book for all hungry Christians who want to understand how today’s church evolved into its current condition. (This writing comes from pages 43-47 of the book for a brief history of Constantine’s changes to the New Testament Church.) My purpose for reviewing this book is to encourage you to purchase a copy for better understanding of the era and movement we are now in.
The death of the Early Church began with the “conversion” of the Roman emperor Constantine. The year was 312 AD and there was great turmoil in the Empire. Two rivals, Constantine and Maxentius were struggling to seize power. Constantine prayed to Mithras his favorite god, the Persian sun god. He prayed and had a vision of a flaming cross in the sky next to the sun and heard the words, “Conquer with this.” He took the cross as his symbol, won the battle and came to the throne announcing he was now a follower of Christ (Page 43).
Persecution ended immediately. Christianity became the favored religion. Constantine offered extravagant gifts to prominent citizens to convert to the new religion, so thousands of Roman elites joined the emperor’s new church. Constantine made Sunday an official Roman holiday. He built magnificent church buildings all over the empire. He not only legalized Christianity, he tried to improve it.
In 325, Constantine called and presided over the First General Council of the Church, the Council of Nicaea.
The purpose of the council was to give the Church a new image. After Nicaea, Christianity was a different religion than what the apostles had known. Some of the things he changed according to Pierce and Heidler’s book are listed below:
- Outlawed home churches.
- Built magnificent basilicas. At the front of every basilica, he placed a throne for the bishop who was a trusted representative of the emperor.
- Borrowing from the pattern of Rome’s pagan temples, the church hired professional clergy to perform sacred rituals while the church members watched in silence.
- Laymen were no longer permitted to minister.
- Through most of the dark ages, the average churchgoer was not permitted to sing in church.
- Music was performed by professional choirs.
- He outlawed “Jewish” celebrations like Passover.
- By the end of the century paganism was outlawed and pagan temples became churches. Pagan shrines became Christian shrines. They were told to live like Christians, but the problem was they didn’t know Jesus, because they were still pagan. They called their old gods by new names. They still called it church, but much of what took place in the church was paganism.
- “When paganism and idolatry were brought into the Church the Holy Spirit departed” (page 45).
- “By 500 AD the Church was overrun with paganism and many church leaders were unbelievers. The church became a great political and military power, but lost the power of God” (Page 45-46). “By the Middle Ages you were not allowed to read the Bible. The church was dead. For more than 1000 years the Body of Christ was under the power of death.”
The Process of Resurrection
Beginning around 1500 AD, and through great movements of the Holy Spirit, God began to restore His church. Around 1500, God put His hand on Martin Luther and he started reading a Bible and got saved. He translated the Bible into the language of the people so ordinary people could read it. This was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (Page 46).
“In Luther’s day, understanding of salvation and access to the Bible were restored to the church” (page 46). In the 1700’s God awakened the Church to the need for holiness and sanctification. In the early 1900’s God began to restore the power of the Holy Spirit.
The 20th century saw many spiritual movements: Pentecostal movement, the healing movement, charismatic movement, the prophetic movement, and now the apostolic movement” (page 47).
“God is reforming the Church to become a new wineskin that can hold His new wine. The Third Day Church is arising” (page47).